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Arsenic in Chicken Feed

Arsenic in Chicken Feed

Arsenic in Chicken Feed

The use of arsenic in chicken feed has been the source of recent debates. Only recently, Maryland banned the use of arsenic in chicken feed. There are numerous studies that have shown that this compound is harmful to the environment, people, and chickens. If arsenic is harmful, why is it used in chicken feed?

Why is There Arsenic in Chicken Feed?

Arsenic acid has been added to chicken feed for years to prevent coccidiosis in non free range chickens. Since arsenic is a powerful pesticide, it stays in the guts of the poultry and eliminates chances of infections and chicken diseases.

More recently, arsenic is used in chicken feed to boost the growth rate, and to give a pleasant pink color to chicken meat. Since the chickens gain weight rapidly, they become ready for slaughter while still young, which means that they will eat less while developing to broiler size. To farmers, this is a saving on production costs.

What are the Dangers of Arsenic in Chicken Feed?

Arsenic is normally added to chicken feed in the form of Roxarsone or Nitro-3. Once fed to the chickens, it forms a residue in the chickens meat and feathers. According to a research carried out by the John Hopkins University, feather meal (a feed made from ground chicken feathers), contained significant amounts of arsenic residue.

Another research by the University of Maryland showed that chicken droppings contained arsenic residue. Since chicken manure is used as fertilizer, its application on gardens and food crops can lead to contamination of the produce if the plants absorb the compound. Arsenic can also seep through the earth and contaminate underground waterways, which in turn pollute all water resources.

The study by the University of Maryland revealed that even the slightest exposure to arsenic can lead to adverse health conditions. Some of these conditions include cancer of the bladder, kidneys, lung, and of the skin due to its ability to cause pigmentation. Other health problems include heart diseases, colon cancer, diabetes, partial paralysis and reduced mental functioning.

How to Identify Chicken Feeds Containing Arsenic

While looking for arsenic in chicken feed, the ingredients list is the most logical place to start. If you spot Roxarsone or Nitro-3 in the list, the chicken feed definitely contains arsenic. Alternatively, you can check the FDA list of approved chicken feed.

If you find any chicken feed that claims to boost the rate at which the chickens gain weight, or improve chicken feed efficiency, chances are that that feed contains arsenic. Additionally, if the feed claims to improve pigmentation of the chicken meat, continue carefully as it may contain arsenic.

How Can One Avoid Arsenic Exposure?

Since arsenic is a naturally occurring semi metallic compound, it is impossible to eliminate. However, one can be protected by limiting exposure to the compound and avoiding arsenic in chicken feed. This can be done by use of homemade chicken feed instead of the commercially prepared alternatives. Organic chicken feed is another safe alternative.

Check out the FDA’s list of approved chicken feed. Recently, the FDA recalled Dumor chicken feed after it was reported to contain harmful ingredients. It is advisable to keep up with the FDA news to be safe. In addition, choose to consume chicken from organic farms.

Since arsenic is non depleting, it can easily infiltrate into the water systems, which can expose people to the compound, even without harming the chicken. Therefore, in order to keep safe, limit your exposure to the compound by staying away from inorganically raised chickens and arsenic in chicken feed.

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